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Lords threat to revamp hunting bill

PEERS IN the House of Lords began to study the details of the Hunting Bill late last week after its arrival in the Upper House.

They want to amend the Bill, which had a third reading in the Commons a week last Wednesday, to delete the clauses which will impose a total ban on hunting.

The legislation is due to be given a second reading in the Lords on Sept 17, and detailed, line-by-line discussion will start in October.

Lord Mancroft, a pro-hunting Tory peer and a Countryside Alliance board member, predicted that the Lords would reinstate the provisions for the regulation of foxhunting contained in the Government's original Bill, ther so-called ‘Middle Way’ option.

If that happens, however, MPs are certain to reject them again. Ministers have indicated that if this happens they will use the Parliament Act to force a total ban on to the statute book in the next session of Parliament.

Even so, the legislation might not be in place until 2005, just before a General Election, which might enable to Government to lose what it now considers to be an unwanted, embarrassing – and potentially vote-costing - piece of legislation.